Wednesday 29 June 2016

Referendum moves in North 'inevitable' if Scots secede

Sam Griffin and Niall O'Connor

Published 08/09/2014 | 02:30

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton
John Gibson
The bye-election is being held as a result of Brian Hayes' election to the European Parliament

THE state's former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton says demands for a referendum on a united Ireland will be 'inevitable' if Scotland votes for independence next week.

The government here has been reluctant to comment on the implications of Scottish independence for Ireland, but Ms Creighton told the Irish Independent it would be 'extraordinary' if Scotland gained autonomy while Northern Ireland remained part of Britain.

"That would be a pretty unbelievable move that I don't think anybody could have contemplated 10 years ago. It will have major political consequences for Ireland if it is carried.

"I think it would inevitably lead to demand for such a referendum (in the North). I don't know what the outcome of such a referendum would be. We are all committed now to the principle of consent in Northern Ireland, respective of both communities and that's something I would feel very strongly about," she said.

She added the latest opinion poll was 'a major wake-up call' for Irish people and warned that calls for a referendum in the north could be damaging.

"My fear is that a referendum of that sort in the North at this juncture would actually threaten the peace process and would alienate the Protestant community and could actually be very dangerous," she said.

"I'm not sure the peace process is advanced enough and that peace is embedded in the North given the controversies over flags. The power-sharing executive is fraught and can be a difficult way of working."

She said it was important the Irish government supported Scotland's efforts to gain EU membership but warned the government should only comment after the referendum.

Last week MEP Brian Hayes said the Scottish referendum had 'immense consequences' for the UK and said a Yes victory would increase the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU.

"Ireland needs to take account of the evolving dynamics of the British state and how we should respond to these changes," he told the British-Irish Association in Oxford.

"For example, what is the likely impact of Scottish independence on Northern Ireland politics? In many respects, Northern Ireland's links with the UK are more with Scotland than with rest of the UK."

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson last night said the Government was "monitoring developments and their implications in light of our interests and policy objectives" but declined to comment further on the latest opinion poll.

Scots here have expressed reservation about breaking away from the United Kingdom.

John Gibson, who moved to Dublin from Edinburgh in 1987, said voting Yes doesn't make economic sense.

"The worry would be a severe shock like 2008 happens again and Scotland, like Ireland, ends up getting hammered economically while the UK uses its size and monetary policy to mostly get around the risks," he said.

Irish Independent

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